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Pragmatism (Read 868 times)

    If we attend to our own experience, we will find that individual freedom is not prior to society, but a function of it and necessarily connected to it. Freedom does not come granted from on high, but is educated into us by our environment. For me, then, the good of the individual and the good of the society are rarely at odds with one another. In fact, the one cannot be thought without the other.
    This is how I have always thought of freedom and altruism as well, though I doubt I could have expressed the concept in as thorough yet succinct language. I'll admit to speed reading much of this thread--the first part in about ten minutes while wolfing down a sandwich at my desk around mid-day and the last couple of posts just now. But it was an interesting read. My life is so hectic and busy right now that I rarely get a chance to just read and think with no deadline and for no immediate practical reason. Thanks for the ride.

    Runners run.

      Modified to add: this is a response to Scout...hey Mike! Right--I didn't really start understanding Plato or Aristotle until I began getting a sense of Greek. And almost all of the stuff you are reading is in translation--across languages and across time. The first time I read Plato I thought this guy is idiotic. The hardest thing about philosophers is that they use ordinary words in uncommon ways ("experience," for example). It's sort of like any other technical discourse, you have to stick with it for a while and then all the ideas begin to fall into place. So, don't feel like you have to go pick up a copy of Plato's works and it will change your life. If you are interested in pragmatism, John Dewey is the guy I'm basically summarizing. You could try Experience and Nature or Art as Experience or Democracy and Education. But in the end philosophy shouldn't be about reading books; it should be practiced as an exchange among friends and between rivals. The technical academic discipline of philosophy does damage to the reputation of philosophy because it can't communicate with non-philosophers. This is one of my greatest concerns about choosing an academic career, so it's nice to be able to discuss my ideas outside of the stale air of the graduate seminar.
      Scout7


      CPT Curmudgeon

        Jeff, I completely understand what you mean. I think the other problem is that, for my course of studies in college, we focused on specific writings from specific philosophers and theorists. By doing that, one tends to get a less-than-complete experience in terms of understanding the writer. Hey, the one great thing about being a Poli Sci major was that I had a number of friends who enjoyed nothing more than to sit around a pitcher of beer and discuss such lofty topics in an open forum. That was great fun. This is similar, just minus the beer.
        Scout7


        CPT Curmudgeon

          Jeff, I was reading an article at work talking about the growth and role of technology advocacy groups in politics and law. I bring this up because it started me thinking again about the perceived separation between individual and group rights. These groups, like the EFF and EPIC, are similar to a group like the ACLU, just with a technical bent. They claim that they are working to uphold the rights of the individual when it comes to technological advancement. Tactics of these groups aside, I think this concept is especially interesting. If we go beyond what constitutes rights and freedoms (as previously discussed to some extent), I think that it's important to look at how technology impacts our notions of those basic tenets. Also, I think that it's becoming more and more difficult to separate an individual's rights from the rights of the many, mostly due to a greater level of connection. This ties in with an idea of citizenship, and technology's impact on that concept as well. I think they're all related, really. We walk a very fine line in the U.S. between maintaining privacy, yet wanting to protect the members of our society. At what point does one outweigh the other? Is there a point where that occurs at all? What about non-members/citizens? What rights do they get or can they expect? I like to bring a modern twist on things.
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